“The fear [more like profound respect leading to complete trust and adherence] of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; she inebriates mortal with her fruits…

“The fear of the Lord is the crown of wisdom, making peace and perfect health to flourish. She rained down knowledge and discerning comprehension, and she heightened the glory of those who held her fast.

“To fear the Lord is the root of wisdom, and her branches are long life.” [Sirach 1:14-20]

Subway Encounger

On the subway this morning, a young guy got on the train dressed in a way that made me wonder what Faith he was a part of. I thought, perhaps, Sufi (Islam). I went up and asked him – Sunni. He is studying to be an Imam. We talked about his studies and my studies in seminary here in New York (I told him I am an Anglican priest).

With all the controversy and fear mongering and accusation and everything else going on between Muslims and Christians – add Hindus, Buddhists, and all the like – one thing that will become ever more apparent is that people of faith, no matter what their Faith, will end up having much more in common with each other than any individual Faith with the prevailing culture. There are real differences between the Faith’s and those differences are to be respected, but in the end the walk of faith is a task and disposition – a wisdom – finding much in common among us all.

The question that is so present in my mind and heart these recent days is how I am to change, particularly with certain significant people, so that I can love them in ways that benefit them firstly, and not out my own fear or longing or insecurity or all that. How am I to change? How am I to change so that I am able to better love my neighbor, this young Muslim student, a significant other?

The Gift of Mercy

The Scriptural gift of Mercy is the capacity to feel and express unusual compassion and sympathy for those in difficult or crisis situations and provide them with the necessary help and support to see them through tough times. The merciful feel the emotional atmosphere around an individual or group, being sensitive to feelings and needs of others because the Holy Spirit is at work in the person. A key characteristic of the merciful is an ability to sense joy or distress in others. The merciful are drawn to those who are in mental or emotional distress. Christians with the gift of mercy are drawn to people experiencing emotional distress, and often make friends with those in need. The merciful seek to remove pain rather than find its benefits. Even when someone suffers as a result of his own disobedience, the gift of mercy concerns itself with soothing the person’s pain.  Though not insensitive to the physical needs of people, the merciful are primarily concerned with the spiritual and emotional condition of an individual.  (Source)

Assult / Beauty

From “Yearning: Authentic Transformation, Young Adults, and the Church”, by The Rev. Robert Hendrickson, pp 67-68:

“In the day-to-day lives of many young adults, they will be assaulted by images of at best banality and at worst outright cruelty. Advertising works on the premise that they are never enough, television creates a spectacle of emotional manipulation and invites them to cascade between feeling less than or superior to – megastores and strip malls take nature and bend it to serve only a bland commerce bent toward creating competitive identity that obscures our actual identity and blurs the particularities of the neighborhoods we live in and serve.

Somewhere along that walk from the font to the alter, in the life of virtue, the encroaching of cultural norms, values, and expectations derail us.  The journey that we begin by being baptized into the life of Christ quickly gets sidetracked as we take paths that seem to shine a little more brightly.  Then we find ourselves lost and without bearings – unable to see our true selves or true home through the ceaseless press and clamor.

The hollowness of the world cannot be filled with more of the world, but with more of that grace which flows of the sacraments and makes men and women more holy and more devout.  Those struggling to find God amidst and despite the banality of much of contemporary culture will not find an answer in a Church that simply seeks to replicate that banality in our buildings, liturgies, prayers, or work in the world.

This is where beauty comes in.  Beauty has the power to pull us up short – to force us to behold again. To behold all that God is doing around, in, and in spit of us. It demands of us a renewed seriousness as we stand in the middle of that which makes us know that there is more.”

A New Year Cometh…

The eve of a new year is upon us.  I wonder, sometimes, how open we are to whatever-may-come.  Are we more apt to rigidly attempt to force life into a mold of our own imagining, perhaps because of fear or intimidation or weariness or confusion or insecurity or, perhaps, due to being lost to our own humanity, an honest sense-of-self, lost to our own possibilities?

We limit ourselves, terribly, I suppose. We limit our ability to love – and I think more significantly our ability to receive love.  What does it mean to be fearfully and wonderfully made?  Where along the line have we bought the lie that our consumerist culture peddles, and that we as a people soak up lock, stock, and barrel?

If we imagine ourselves to be free, particularly of the fear of what we cannot know or control, free from even the fear of death, then where do limits exist in understanding the potential and possibilities existing all around us?

If only we take one step, if only we run the race set before us, if only we decide to move beyond the boundaries of our own creation, then why limit ourselves and capitulate to whatever binds up our hope, our lives?  What can we discover in this new year if our imaginations are set loose to run free and run wild?  God’s peace and blessing we with us all, I pray. Happy 2014!



“The Bible does not supersede labour, but by its very form proclaims labour to be fruitful… There is, no doubt, a restless desire in man for some help which may save him from the painful necessity of reflection, comparison, judgement. But the Bible offers no such help. It offers no wisdom to the careless, and no security to the indolent. It awakens, nerves, invigorates, but it makes no promise of ease.” – B.F. Westcott, “Lessons from Work” (London, 1901) p. 148 as found in “Anglican Identities” by Rowan Williams (Cambridge, MA: Cowley Publications, 2003) p.76.

We’re rethinking…

So, I’m in the midst of rethinking the “Imago Dei Initiative.”  Part of our DNA is an understanding that rethinking has to occur regularly and constantly.  As folks engaging with emerging generations and culture, what else can we do?

Up-front-and-center is the need to refocus ministry development in the midst of parish life. After nearly 20-years of observing “Emergent” or “Fresh Expressions” models of being “the church” – at least that part that eschews larger gatherings of people for the “intimate-alternative” – I find that those models tend to be transient and temporary.  As valuable as they may be for the people in them, such small groups over time are not particularly sustainable and certainly do not do things like pay diocesan assessments. I fully support those trying alternative things – that’s what we are doing, frankly. It just depends on how “alternative” is conceptualized and experienced. 😉

There are reasons why aspects of the Christian Faith and Tradition have endured for nearly 2,000 years, even as our understanding and experience of society, humanity, and technology have changed.  The institutional Church must realize that those experimental forms of “church”, as valuable as they may be, are not the future. The fringe never is.  The fringe, however, will inevitably change us!  Yet, that which has endured will continue to endure no matter how radically-whatever we try to be, and the rest will fall away.

The current Church bureaucracy of technocrats still function under a perceptional framework based in Modernism and Christendom – no matter how much they try, otherwise.  It is obvious to anyone who was not formed to perceive in such ways. So, the real re-invigoration of the institutional Church will rest with those younger – so shall it be as it always has been. The holders of elder-wisdom who get-it will be there to guild and support.  Those who don’t – well, they will hinder until they can hinder no more. Thankfully, the emerging generations at present have a keener understanding of and value for that which endures.

So then, how do we perpetually put aside our own “stuff” for the sake of the Church-becoming… for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in present contexts… for the sake of those who do not yet have a knowledge of God?

What are they thinking… do they even know?

Okay, search committees (and priests!!!) need to understand that “Anglo-Catholic” does not equal smells & bells, etc. Anglo-Catholicism is an approach, an attitude, a devotion and discipline with respect to the Faith whether there are fancy anything, bells, incense, etc. The Oxford Movement and the Ritualist Movement were two separate events, even if connected and having many of the same folks involved. There is also a difference between “High Church” and “Anglo-Catholic.”

I’m hearing that many (and personally know of) Anglo-Catholic parishes that are calling priests who get there and are not Anglo-Catholic, but just like smells and bells and the associated adiaphora. Then, the parishioners are up in arms because the priest doesn’t know what s/he is doing and just doesn’t get their devotion.

Thoughts on “marriage”

Reading through Genesis and considering recent Supreme Court decisions – Abraham married a second time and sired more children… but also had children by his “concubines” (plural), to whom he gave gifts upon his approaching death. (Gen. 25) No negative commentary on this form of coupling from the biblical record, thus far anyway.

We all like to think God is on our side, don’t we? The demand that God’s definition of marriage must look just like late 20th Century, American, Culture War notions of marriage isn’t faring so well when one actually reads Scripture. For better or for worse, the Biblical record does not support notions of marriage based on romantic love or of one single man and one single woman or on the sanctioning of a centralized State.

The attempts to force Scripture to support what one group or another wants (or imagine God demands) is nothing new.

The profound opposition to gay marriage by certain groups (which is their civic right to do), has caused them to so bend Scripture to support their cause that even a cursory reading makes obvious that their attempts fail – again, for better or for worse.

via The Imago Dei Initiative Blog.